Scientists have widely accepted the idea that a comet or asteroid forced the dinosaurs into extinction when it crashed into Earth. But a new study suggests that volcanic eruptions may also have played a role in the extinction.
Volcanoes in the Deccan volcanic province were undergoing a series of eruptions at the same time as the asteroid collision, according to a new report in Science magazine. The volcanoes may have covered as many as 200,000 square miles of modern India in volcanic basalt, which could have impacted the dinosaurs.
Researchers from Princeton University write in the study that the volcanic eruptions started 250,000 years before the dinosaurs' extinction, and the eruptions lasted for 750,000 years. That means it's likely that gases and matter from the eruptions contributed to at least some of the dinosaur species' extinction.
Although earlier mass extinctions were caused solely by volcanic eruptions, the authors note that volcanoes alone didn't kill the dinosaurs. Dating the volcanic eruptions more precisely will help them continue to research what else did.